Anxiety & Food Allergy

kolari thumbnailWhen you have a child with severe allergies, anxiety is a constant companion both for the parents and for the child. Learning to live with that anxiety and keeping that balance between vigilance and happiness is a part of daily living.

Anxiety is a part of being a parent and you need a certain amount to keep your children safe, but too much can have a negative impact on your parenting, your child and on you. Anxiety is an awful feeling and once it is turned on, it can be hard to turn off. It can also make us uncomfortable, irritable and unreasonable. So what can we do about it?

First of all, it is really important to have a sense of control over your anxiety because it can be such an uncomfortable and powerful emotion. When someone is anxious, the pathways to logical thought are temporally severed and as soon as your body detects you are worried, it errs on the side of caution and puts you in fight or flight mode. This is great if you are a caveman or on the battlefield, not so great if you are a mom just trying to cope.

Here is what you can do. If you can control your breathing and your heart rate, you can control that fight or flight response. So when you are exposed to anything which aggravates or stimulates your anxiety, slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. When your breathing slows down, your heart will calm down too and your brain will register that and keep access open to logical thought. If you find yourself in a real life situation and you are fearful that your child may have eaten something that wasn’t checked for safety, it is still critically important that you slow down that fight or flight response so that your brain can access the important information it needs to handle the situation properly and so that you remain relaxed and in control in front of your child.

Think of a scale from one to 10. One is when you are the most relaxed and calm, 10 is when you feel a sense of panic. Learn to rate your anxiety and monitor yourself throughout the day. If you feel higher than a five, you need to get that number lower by breathing or by thinking of happy or funny things. Try not to talk too much about the things that are making you anxious–this fuels anxiety and can put you right back in fight or flight mode. If you find yourself having real difficulty with sleeping or panic attacks, call your doctor or a therapist trained in helping people with anxiety–getting help to manage your anxiety can really help.

Feeling that you control your anxiety, instead of your anxiety controlling you, is the best way to find balance and peace of mind.

*Adapted from a previous post at Just the Facts Baby.

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Please remember that the advice given on this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or the direct advice of a mental health care professional.
"Connected Parenting advises us not just how to parent, but—far more important—who to be as parents. The therapeutic methods suggested by Jennifer Kolari are based not on simple-minded behavioural solutions, but on building warm, nurturing relationships with our children, with insight and compassion not only for their little flaws, but also for our own larger ones."
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